High-resolution airborne lidar has been employed in the Maya lowlands to examine landscape modifications, detect architectural features, and expedite and expand upon traditional settlement surveys. Another potentially beneficial—and to-date underutilized—application of lidar is in the analysis of water management features such as small reservoirs and household storage tanks. The urban center of Yaxnohcah, located within the Central Karstic Uplands of the Yucatan Peninsula, provides an ideal test case for studying how the residents of this important Maya community managed their seasonally scarce water resources at the household scale. We employ an integrative approach combining lidar-based GIS analysis of 24 km2 of the site area, ground verification, and excavation data from five small depressions to determine their function and the role they may have played in water management activities. Our research shows that some, but not all, small depressions proximate to residential structures functioned as either natural or human-made storage tanks and were likely an adaptive component of expanding Middle Preclassic to Classic period urbanization at the site. Thus, while lidar has revolutionized the identification of topographical features and hydrologic patterns in the landscape, a combination of ground verification and archaeological testing remains necessary to confirm and evaluate these features as potential water reservoirs.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jun. 2017|
- Ancient Maya
- Hydrologic analysis
- Water management